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In This Edition

Norman Solomon explores, "Joe Biden's Relapse Into Hallucinations About GOP Leaders."

Ralph Nader sees, "Collapsing Federal Corporate Crime Enforcement."

Margaret Kimberley remembers, "Glen Ford's Journalism Fought For Black Liberation And Against Imperialism."

Jim Hightower says, "A Phoenix Is Rising."

William Rivers Pitt concludes, "Both The Delta Variant And Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal To Our Society."

John Nichols reports, "'Death By DeSantis' Threatens Florida As Covid Numbers Spike ."

James Donahue says, "World In Self-Destruct; The Signs Are In Front Of Our Nose."

Bill McKibben considers, "It's Not The Heat, It's The Damage."

David Suzuki wonders, "Is Smaller Better When It Comes To Nuclear?"

Charles P. Pierce says, "Don't Get Swept Up In The Infrastructure Romance. Bipartisanship Is Illusory."

Juan Cole reports, "For First Time On Record, US Renewables Generated More Electricity Than Either Coal Or Nuclear in 2020."

Robert Reich says, "A Trump Bombshell Quietly Dropped Last Week. And It Should Shock Us All."

Bill Blum returns with, "Unequal Justice: Trump's Legal Woes Are Multiplying."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Onion reports, "Experts Encourage Americans To Start Thinking About What Form Of Government They'd Like To Try After Democracy Crumbles," but first, Uncle Ernie finds, "Rapid Arctic Warming Is Accelerating Permafrost Collapse."

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Bruce Plante, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from, Brian McFadden, Anna Moneymaker, Nathaniel St. Clair, Paul Hennessy, Lance Anderson, Joe Raedle, Nicholas Kamm, Christof Stache, Axel Schmidt, SOPA Images, David Suzuki Foundation, CQ-Roll Call, Black Agenda Report, Robert Reich, Jim Hightower, Pexels, AFP, Unsplash, Shutterstock, Reuters, Flickr, AP, Getty Images, You Tube, and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments-

The Quotable Quote-
The Cartoon Corner-
To End On A Happy Note-
Have You Seen This-
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Rapid Arctic Warming Is Accelerating Permafrost Collapse
Global warming strikes again!
By Ernest Stewart

Help me if you can, I'm feeling down
And I do appreciate you being round
Help me get my feet back on the ground
Won't you please, please help me
Help ~~~ The Beatles

I see where Siberia and other Northern Russian regions are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the impact of global warming, which is accelerating exceptionally fast in the Arctic regions, the international Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG) said in a new report on Thursday.

The Arctic is warming roughly three times faster than the planet as a whole, scientists warned in the report. Annual Arctic temperatures are now 3.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level, while Earth in general has warmed by 1.2 C. However, the present scale of weather disasters is much bigger than climate scientists had anticipated for this level of global warming.

Permafrost currently covers about 65% of Russian territory, but is melting fast due to the climate crisis. The Republic of Sakha and the Chukotka and Magadan regions are the most vulnerable to permafrost collapse, according to the report. "Scientists have been shocked that the warm weather conducive to permafrost thawing is occurring roughly 70 years ahead of model projections," it said.

The report also warned that by 2100 the Arctic could have lost 89% of its permafrost.

Vast natural reserves of methane and other greenhouse gases are locked into the permafrost. Due to its rapid melting, more and more gases are being emitted into the atmosphere, accelerating the climate crisis.

When coupled with the melting of glacier and sea ice, this could push the Arctic over the tipping point beyond which it will become close to impossible to stop climate change from accelerating.

As permafrost melts, it releases chemicals and bacteria which have been frozen for millennia. Experts warned in the report that this could cause levels of toxic mercury in rivers to increase, and even revive smallpox and other illnesses that have been dormant for generations.

Melting permafrost can also seriously damage pipelines, roads, airports, and other vital infrastructure, the scientists warned. The nuclear power plant in Chukotka's Bilibino and several hydro dams around Magadan are under threat of collapse because they sit on permafrost. Remember the drunken forrests in Alaska? Not to mention all the viruses being unleashed from the melting permafrost. Viruses that will make the covid-19 look like a summer cold!

Diseases that used to make the dinosaurs sneeze, think your immune system is ready for that?


11-05-1949 ~ 07-28-2021
Thanks for the truth!

01-14-1935 ~ 07-31-2021
Thanks for the music!

02-26-1943 ~ 08-01-2021
Thanks for the music!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can?


Until the next time, Peace!

(c) 2021 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, philosopher, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. and like us when you do. Follow me on Twitter.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House on July 26, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Joe Biden's Relapse Into Hallucinations About GOP Leaders
By Norman Solomon

For a while, President Biden seemed to be recovering from chronic fantasies about Republicans in Congress. But last week he had a relapse -- harming prospects for key progressive legislation and reducing the already slim hopes that the GOP can be prevented from winning control of the House and Senate in midterm elections 15 months from now.

Biden's reflex has been to gladhand his way across the aisle. On the campaign trail in May 2019, he proclaimed: "The thing that will fundamentally change things is with Donald Trump out of the White House. Not a joke. You will see an epiphany occur among many of my Republican friends." A year and a half later, the president-elect threw some bipartisan bromides into his victory speech -- lamenting "the refusal of Democrats and Republicans to cooperate with one another," contending that the American people "want us to cooperate," and pledging "that's the choice I'll make."

But the notion of cooperating with Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy was always a fool's errand. That reality might as well have been blinking in big neon letters across the Capitol Dome since January, as Republicans continually doubled down on complete intransigence. By early March, when the landmark American Rescue Plan squeaked through Congress, Biden had new reasons to wise up.

Passage of the $1.9 trillion measure, Biden said, "proves we can do big things, important things in this country." But passage also proved that every Republican in the House and Senate is dedicated to stopping this country from doing "big, important things." The American Rescue Plan got through Congress without a single Republican vote.

As the American Prospect's executive editor, David Dayen, pointed out at the time, many of the major gains in the rescue package were fundamental yet fragile. While purported "free-market solutions" had been set aside, crucial provisions were put on a timer to sunset: "We have the outline of a child allowance but it expires in a year. The [Affordable Care Act] subsidies expire in two years. The massive expansion of unemployment eligibility for a much wider group of workers is now done on Labor Day weekend. There's a modicum of ongoing public investment, but mostly this returns us to a steady state, with decisions to make from there."

Whether progress can be sustained and accelerated during the next several years will largely depend on ending Republican leverage over the Senate via the filibuster and preventing a GOP congressional majority from taking hold in January 2023. The new temporary measures, Dayen notes, could all be made permanent, "with automatic stabilizers that kick in during downturns, and Federal Reserve bank accounts for every American to fill when needed. We could ensure that federal support sustaining critical features of public life remains in place. We could choose to not build a pop-up safety net but an ongoing one."

The obstacles to enacting long-term structural changes will be heightened to the extent that Biden relapses into a futile quest for "bipartisanship." This year, the GOP's methodical assaults on voting rights -- well underway in numerous states controlled by Republican legislatures and governors -- could be somewhat counteracted by strong, democracy-oriented federal legislation. And that won't happen if the Senate filibuster remains in place.

Yet Biden, even while denouncing attacks on voting rights, now seems quite willing to help Republicans retain the filibuster as a pivotal tool for protecting and enabling those attacks. During a CNN town hall last week, Biden said he favors tweaking the Senate rules to require that some senator keeps talking on the floor to continue a filibuster -- but he's against getting rid of the filibuster. Eliminating it, Biden said, would "throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done." On voting rights, the president said, he wants to "bring along Republicans who I know know better."

Many activists quickly demolished those claims. "This answer from Biden on the filibuster just doesn't make sense," tweeted Sawyer Hackett, executive director of People First Future. "Republicans aren't going to wake up and 'know better' than suppressing the vote. The filibuster encourages them to obstruct and our reluctance to end it emboldens them to do worse."

The response from the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Sherrilyn Ifill, was aptly caustic: "What are their names? Name the Republicans who know better. This is not a strategy. The time for magical thinking is over."

As Biden slid into illogical ramblings on CNN to support retaining the filibuster, the implications were ominous and far-reaching. In the words of the Our Revolution organization, Biden "refused to support doing what must be done to secure voting rights. Despite all evidence to the contrary, he continues to entertain the possibility of getting 10 Republican votes for voting rights. Back here, in reality, precisely zero Republicans voted in support of the For the People Act, and there is no reason to expect that to change."

When Biden became president, the Washington Post reported that he had chosen to place a portrait of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the most prominent spot inside the Oval Office, as "a clear nod to a president who helped the country through significant crises, a challenge Biden now also faces." But Biden's recurrent yearning not to polarize with Republican leaders is in stark contrast to FDR's approach.

Near the end of his first term, in a Madison Square Garden speech condemning "the economic royalists," Roosevelt said: "They are unanimous in their hate for me -- and I welcome their hatred." But now, in his recurrent search for cooperation, Biden seems eager for his Republican foes to like him. It's a ridiculous and dangerous quest.

(c) 2021 Norman Solomon is co-founder of and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include "War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death" and "Made Love, Got War: Close Encounters with America's Warfare State."

Collapsing Federal Corporate Crime Enforcement
By Ralph Nader

As the size and severity of the corporate crime wave surges, Congress is asleep at the switch. The mostly captive Capitol Hill Gang has sat on an antiquated federal criminal code, starved the budget of regulatory health, safety, and consumer/labor protection agencies, and let corporate crooks routinely get away with their crimes.

Despite constant exposes in the mainstream media - still only reporting the tip of the iceberg - neither members of Congress nor presidents from the Republican and Democratic parties have raised the banner of tough "law and order" to counter rampaging corporate crime. Proposals to bring the laws up to date in their penalties and coverage to deter corporate lawbreaking are never a priority for Congress. When was the last time you heard a politician demand "corporate reform"?

Many people still remember how Wall Street, in its greed and power, collapsed the economy in 2008-2009, cost nine million jobs, shredded pension and mutual funds, and insisted on a multi-trillion-dollar bailout. In 2018 Public Citizen found during President Donald Trump's first year in office, enforcement against corporate crime and wrongdoing plummeted from the final year of the Obama administration (See Corporate Impunity "Tough on Crime" Trump Is Weak on Corporate Crime and Wrongdoing).

None of the big boys and mid-sized big boys were ever prosecuted. Shortly thereafter polls showed 90 percent of Americans (conservatives and liberals) wanted to break up the big banks that were too big to fail. Conservative columnist, George Will, wrote that companies too big to fail should not exist.

But exist they do, and their marauding continues almost unabated. According to fraud expert, Harvard Professor Malcolm Sparrow, year after year, billing fraud and abuse accounts for at least 10% of healthcare expenses. That's over $350 BILLION this year. Less than two percent is recovered by law enforcement.

As one prosecutor put it, no matter how complex the rip-offs are, no matter how silent or invisible is the violence (e.g., toxics, latent defects, dangerous pharmaceuticals hospital induced infections, etc.), it comes down to lying, cheating, and stealing.

Some corporate crimes are too big to be ignored. Here is a New York Times report: "Over the past two decades, more than 500,000 people in the United States have died from overdoses of prescription and illegal opioids .... Purdue [Pharma], widely believed to have helped ignite the problem by downplaying the addictive potential of OxyContin and aggressively marketing the drug with misleading campaigns, pleaded guilty to two separate investigations by the Justice Department." The company escaped into bankruptcy. There are all kinds of lawsuits. The bottom line is that the proposed settlement let the Sackler family, mega-billionaire owners, paid out just a small chunk of their immense ill-begotten fortune. Criminal prosecutions of corporate wrongdoers and criminals are almost never pursued.

As the Times wrote: "Neither the company, nor the Sacklers, would admit to wrongdoing in connection with these [about to be settled] lawsuits," brought by many state attorneys general and the Justice Department.

Welcome folks to the widespread phenomenon of corporate crimes without criminals. Also, the settlement, expected to be signed off by the judge, would release the Sacklers and their company from any personal civil liability. The several billions of dollars that will be paid without any personal prosecutions is the way corporate attorneys succeed in monetizing murder or manslaughter as just a deductible cost of doing business. No clients going to jail. (See Rena Steinzor's book, Why Not Jail? Industrial Catastrophes, Corporate Malfeasance, and Government Inaction, 2014).

Boeing's attorneys are also pushing for their strategy of immunity under existing litigation. They got the Trump Justice Department, (DOJ), days before Trump left office in January 2020, to conclude a corrupt, sweetheart "deferred prosecution" settlement (See Corporate Crime Reporter: Lead Boeing Prosecutor Joins Boeing Corporate Criminal Defense Firm Kirkland & Ellis). Though there was a grand jury in operation, there were no indictments or other charges against any of the culpable company bosses who made the decisions that led to the loss of 346 lives in two 737 MAX crashes. Boeing paid a measly $2.5 billion mostly deductible dollars.

To make the stench worse, DOJ's Attorney General William Barr chose a faraway federal court in Fort Worth, TX, known for its corporatist judge, with a right-wing prosecutor, who after cutting the deal, quit and took a job with Kirkland Ellis - Boeing's criminal defense law firm.

In the civil lawsuits against Boeing, brought by the aggrieved families, Perkins Coie, Boeing's law firm, is going all out to avoid trials and settle all these cases through mediation, which, of course, excludes sworn testimony and primitive damages. The overriding goal is to assure that the culpable Boeing bosses and others are neither charged or put on the witness stand under oath in a public trial open to the media and citizenry. See why big corporate lawyers make so much money? They keep the prisons empty of corporate wrongdoers by having them be above the law.

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), now Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee's Constitution Subcommittee, has spoken out about the absence of any criminal penalties in numerous federal statutes such as the ones covering auto and aviation safety. In 2015 Senator Blumenthal introduced the S.2140 the "Hide No Harm Act" that would make it a crime for a corporate officer to knowingly conceal information about a corporate action or product that poses the danger of death or serious physical injury to consumers or workers. As a former longtime Attorney General of Connecticut, he decries weaknesses of existing federal criminal statutes and small budgets. He wants action. It is high time to hold historic hearings that go to the cause of the systemic derelictions of justice regarding corporate abuses. America, besieged by corporate crime, needs corporate crime laws that fit these crimes.

Urge full Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) to provide Senator Blumenthal the requisite staff and resources for this historic mission. Senator Durbin's phone numbers are Washington D.C. office: 202-224-2152 / Chicago office: 312-353-4952.

(c) 2021 Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His latest book is The Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas for Our American Future. Other recent books include, The Seventeen Traditions: Lessons from an American Childhood, Getting Steamed to Overcome Corporatism: Build It Together to Win, and "Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us" (a novel).

Glen Ford's Journalism Fought For Black Liberation And Against Imperialism
By Margaret Kimberley

Ford was among the few journalists who took a stance for Black liberation and against imperialism.

I had the honor of working with the late Glen Ford for nearly 20 years. His passing has created a huge void not just for Black Agenda Report (BAR), the site we co-founded with the late Bruce Dixon, but for all of Black politics and left media. Ford identified his political and journalistic stance with both, having created the tagline: "News, commentary and analysis from the black left" for BAR. He was the consummate journalist, a man who demanded rigorous analysis of himself and others, and he lived by the dictum of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted. Ford co-founded a publication in line with his core values: He did not suffer fools gladly, succumb to corporate media and government narratives, or feel obligated to change his politics in order to elevate the Black face in a high place.

Ford spoke of learning this lesson the hard way. He told a story of regret, his ethical dilemma, when he gave one such Black person, Barack Obama, a pass in 2003. At that time, Ford, Dixon and I were all working at Black Commentator. Obama had announced his candidacy for the United States Senate and he was listed as a member of the Democratic Leadership Council (DCL), the right-leaning, corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Obama had also removed an antiwar statement from his website.

Ford and Dixon posed what they called "bright line questions" to Obama on issues such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, single-payer health care and Iraq. His fuzzy answers should have flunked him, but Ford chose not to be seen as "a crab in a barrel," one who pulled another of the group down. Obama was given an opportunity to comment in Black Commentator and Ford wrote, "[Black Commentator] is relieved, pleased, and looking forward to Obama's success in the Democratic senatorial primary and Illinois general election."

As he witnessed Obama's actions on the campaign trail and eventually in office, Ford never again felt obligated to depart from his political stances or to defend a member of the group whose politics were not in keeping with the views of the Black left.

From that moment on, Glen Ford did not let up on Obama, just as he did not waver from his staunch opposition to neoliberalism and U.S. imperialism. Black Agenda Report became the go-to site for all leftists. BAR's critique of Obama when he led the destruction of Libya was no less stinging than critiques of George W. Bush when the U.S. invaded Iraq. Ford declared that Obama and the Democrats were not the "lesser evil" that millions of people hoped for. Instead, they were just the more effective evil, and they were always in BAR's journalistic sights.

Ford was always an uncompromising defender of Black people and never shrank from explaining the mechanisms which place that group at or near the bottom of all positive metrics and at or near the top of all the negative. He was one of the first to amplify the term "mass incarceration" in his unsparing analysis of the United States and its dubious distinction as the nation with more people behind bars than any other: more than 2 million, with half of those being Black, a cohort which makes up one-quarter of all the incarcerated in the world. Black Agenda Report can be counted on to give this information consistently and with no punches pulled.

Glen Ford was a committed socialist, a Vietnam-era military veteran and a member of the Black Panther Party. He spent part of his childhood and youth in Columbus, Georgia, in the days of apartheid in the United States. Those life experiences shaped his work and left a legacy that anyone who considers themselves a leftist ought to follow.

He worked in the media throughout his adult life and served as a Capitol Hill, White House and State Department correspondent for the Mutual Black Network. In 1977, he co-founded "America's Black Forum," which was the first nationally syndicated Black-oriented program on commercial television.

Now the number of media outlets is very small, thanks in large part to Bill Clinton's 1996 Telecommunications Act. Just six corporations control 90 percent of all media we read, watch and hear, and that means that there are very few working journalists, and an even smaller number with Ford's experience and worldview. The most "successful" of those who fall into the category of journalists are mostly scribes, repeating the narratives which are favored by politicians and the corporate media.

We desperately need left media and journalists like Glen Ford. Any reader of Black Agenda Report won't expect The New York Times or The Washington Post to tell them what is happening in Haiti or Cuba. Thanks to Ford's consistent analysis, they understand that even those who want to be well informed seldom are unless they also read Black Agenda Report.

Glen Ford will be missed by all who knew him and by all BAR readers. He and journalists of his ilk are small in number and irreplaceable.

(c) 2021 Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com.

A Phoenix Is Rising
By Jim Hightower

Our local newspapers are being merged, purged, shrunk, shut down, and looted by Wall Street profiteers - yet there's good news. In the towns those media vultures are torching, a phoenix is rising!

Hundreds of determined locals, often led by people of color, are finding new ways to pay for and revive top-quality, local journalism. For example, the Ferndale (CA) Enterprise moved to an old Victorian home, renting upstairs rooms to vacationers to subsidize the paper. Also, while aloof Wall Street owners have no connection to us or our towns, the scrappy new community papers are stressing their grassroots connection by moving into friendlier, more central, street-level spaces - such as public libraries and community centers - so that regular people can see them and have direct access to their reporters and editors. Then there's the editor of the Sahan Journal in Minneapolis, who moves his weekly editorial meeting to the offices of various grassroots groups so their members can help shape the paper's coverage. And in Marfa, Texas, the Big Bend Sentinel is literally serving the public, not only with a good weekly, but also with The Sentinel - a combo coffee shop, cozy bar, cafe, event space, and hangout for locals to meet and greet.

In ways big and small, dedicated local journalists are experimenting with funding, structures, staffing, etc., to produce the news that democracy requires. Note to Wall Street vultures: These newspaper ventures aren't interested in "scaling-up" to maximize investor profits. As they know, it was corporate cost-cutting, consolidation, and "scaling" that got us into today's mess of journalistic collapse. Instead, by sharing ideas and resources, these local innovators help each other succeed. And, unlike the Wall Street model, their success is not measured simply by financial return, but also by how they do at keeping citizens informed and engaged.

Now that's real journalism.

(c) 2021 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates,"is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition. Jim writes The Hightower Lowdown, a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at

A treatment tent is seen outside the emergency department at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne., Florida, on July 29, 2021.

Both The Delta Variant And Thin-Willed Democrats Are Lethal To Our Society
By William Rivers Pitt

Two headlines had themselves a nasty little car accident in my mind yesterday. "Pro-Sanders Group Rebranding Into 'Pragmatic Progressives'" blew through a stoplight and t-boned "'The War Has Changed': Internal CDC Document Urges New Messaging, Warns Delta Infections Likely More Severe," right there in the intersection of my prefrontal lobe. Shattered safety glass everywhere, air bags sagging over steering wheels, a side-view mirror in the gutter like a lost shoe... it was ugly.

"The delta variant of the coronavirus appears to cause more severe illness than earlier variants and spreads as easily as chickenpox," reads the grim tide of words under the second headline, from the Washington Post. "The [Centers for Disease Control] document strikes an urgent note, revealing the agency knows it must revamp its public messaging to emphasize vaccination as the best defense against a variant so contagious that it acts almost like a different novel virus, leaping from target to target more swiftly than Ebola or the common cold."

Of course, I have absolutely had it with the "Because Trump" brigade and their Bellagio fountain of self-interested bullshit when it comes to getting the shot (among a great many other things, but we'll leave that for later). Those who refuse to be masked and/or vaccinated as they cling to right-wing conspiracy theories have become petri dishes for the variants that are stealing more and more lives and putting all of us at grave risk.

"Pro-Sanders Group Rebranding Into 'Pragmatic Progressives,'" however, is the jerk that ran the light. "Rather than insisting on 'Medicare for All' - Sanders' trademark universal, government-funded health care plan - or the climate-change-fighting Green New Deal, Our Revolution is focusing on the more modest alternatives endorsed by President Joe Biden," reports the Associated Press.

Check me here, because I could very well be off-base: In a time when drastic measures are shriekingly necessary to stave off a whole cavalcade of calamities, an advocacy group founded on the principles of lifelong advocate Bernie Sanders is downshifting from progressive advocacy to some sort of milquetoast cuddling with the conservative Democrat in the White House? The guy who got one quarter of what he asked for in his first infrastructure try and dared to call it a triumph after the Republicans ate his (and our) lunch.

"The senator didn't comment for this story," reads the report, and Christ on crutches, I hope that means Sanders doesn't endorse this move. Progressive advocacy groups are not supposed to get along with the conservatives they're advocating against. Activists on our side seldom get what they came for, and are usually struggling against terrible odds - and that is the fugging point. We seldom get what we want, but we always push for what everyone needs.

We never stop, and 20 years later, we look behind us and maybe say with dim surprise, "Damn, we got some stuff done." The view is foreshortened when your shoulder is to the wheel, and sometimes we don't recognize progress when it happens. But what we cannot do is trade in our shovels for some spats and a snazzy seat on the rubber chicken circuit. Shame upon you, "Our Revolution." Your revolution isn't just over; you surrendered.

God save us from our "friends."

There were 71,621 new COVID infections yesterday, a two-week increase of 151 percent. The president and the media are going back and forth about "messaging" while nihilist Republicans do everything they can to kill off their own voter base (and everyone else) with lies and galling distractions. The Delta variant gains steam, and Democrats haggle over what to cut from vital legislation, with the cool hand of "Our Revolution" pressed fondly against their backs.

We are embarked upon dark waters, again. It will be worse in two weeks, because this is COVID, and it's always worse in two weeks when the virus trends as it does today. This is no time for advocates to seek the low road; it's already underwater, and no half-assed infrastructure bill can fix it.

"Stout hearts" is all I have to offer. I am holding on to mine with both hands, but as Stephen Crane wrote, it is bitter - bitter... "But I like it because it is bitter, and because it is my heart."

(c) 2021 William Rivers Pitt is a senior editor and lead columnist at Truthout. He is also a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of three books: War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know, The Greatest Sedition Is Silence and House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation. His fourth book, The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Why It Is Happening, and Who Is Responsible, co_written with Dahr Jamail, is available now on Amazon. He lives and works in New Hampshire.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis

'Death By DeSantis' Threatens Florida As Covid Numbers Spike
As the governor jets around the country promising to lead the fight against public health mandates, Florida sees record levels of infection.
By John Nichols

Florida reported a jaw-dropping 21,683 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday, the highest single-day total since the pandemic began. The new figure is 10 percent higher than for the previous worst day, January 7, 2021, which occurred at the peak of last winter's devastating surge.

On Sunday, the data was even more chilling. Florida broke the previous one-day record for hospitalizations. The old record was set on July 23, 2020, during a surge that occurred months before people began to get vaccinations for the virus. While those who have been vaccinated are generally protected against severe illness, less than 50 percent of Floridians are fully inoculated, and some regions of the state are seeing high levels of vaccine hesitancy-along with outright rejection of public health mandates.

On Monday, headlines announced that Florida was leading the nation in per capita Covid-19 hospitalizations, with the Associated Press reporting that hospitals around the state were "having to put emergency room visitors in beds in hallways and others document a noticeable drop in the age of patients." Indeed, noted Jason Salemi, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida, the state now has the highest per capita rate in the nation for pediatric hospitalizations.

This is a crisis.

Yet Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, is refusing to act to protect the health and safety of Floridians. Over the weekend, the Orlando Sentinel revealed that DeSantis has stopped traveling around the state to push for people to get vaccinated. "Despite surge in cases," the front-page headline announced, "governor is no longer encouraging inoculation." The governor is also aggressively opposing mask mandates and other public-health interventions.

US Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat from South Florida, says Floridians are going through "death by DeSantis."

DeSantis is not changing course, however. Instead, he is peddling explanations for his inaction that defy even his own twisted logic.

For instance, DeSantis has blamed the current spike in Covid cases on hot weather. Because summer temperatures are high in the sunshine State, the governor claims, Floridians are spending too much time in air-conditioned buildings where the disease spreads more easily-rather than getting outside in the fresh air.

At the same time, DeSantis is pushing for public school students to return to their classrooms in, um, air-conditioned buildings. And he's promising to block any formal attempt to have them wear masks in those buildings-going so far as to say that he would defund districts that try to require masking.


Don't be. DeSantis is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination-if his mentor and ally Donald Trump lets him. And if Trump decides that he wants to inflict himself on the nation again, DeSantis wants to join the GOP ticket as the vice presidential nominee.

To do this, DeSantis thinks he must be in tune with the science-bashing Republican Party that has emerged during the pandemic-the party of mask-burning Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, of vaccine-rejecting Senator Ron Johnson (R-Conspiracy Theory), and of House minority leader Kevin McCarty with his claim that public-health mandates are "conjured up by liberal government officials who want to continue to live in a perpetual pandemic state." The Floridian will face serious competition for that the anti-science title, even if Trump stands down. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is constantly picking fights with Dr. Anthony Fauci and the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Texas Senator Ted Cruz is going on Fox News to announce, "There should be no mandates. No vaccine mandates, and no mask mandates." And North Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, an all-but-announced 2024 contender, is mocking CDC warnings on Twitter and intimating that governors who act to stop the spread of the Delta variant could be sued for overstepping their authority.

But DeSantis is not going to be outdone when it comes to preventing public health officials from responding effectively to the virus.

"It is very important that we say unequivocally 'no' to lockdowns, no to school closures, no to restrictions and no to mandates," DeSantis declared last week. He made that announcement not in Florida, where spiking virus counts have inspired calls for action, but in Salt Lake City, where he traveled to deliver the keynote address at the summer conference of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council. The ALEC conference is an important stop for Republican presidential prospects, even if they are neglecting crises in their home states.

But its not the only out-of-state destination on DeSantis's summer schedule. The governor has spent so much time out of state that a recent Orlando Sentinel editorial pleaded, "We're begging you, Governor DeSantis, stop messing in Texas and save Florida from Covid."

Allen Ellison, a former congressional candidate who is bidding for his party's 2022 US Senate nomination, says of DeSantis, "His plan is to pander for votes and let Floridians die."

Frustrated that DeSantis's presidential ambitions appear to preclude him from doing his job, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has taken matters into her own hands. She has begun providing daily video briefings on the Covid crisis in the state. "We have to do this together," Fried declared on Monday. "That means vaccinating. That means masking up. That means social distancing where you can."

Fried, a Democrat who hopes to challenge DeSantis for governor in 2022, has even cut a TV commercial directed at conservatives who are unvaccinated. "You won't hear this on Fox News from Gov. DeSantis, but you need to," Fried says in the ad that's begun airing on the Fox News Channel. "Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy and your family doctor all agree. Vaccines will save your life, your job and our economy. Even Donald Trump recommends getting vaccinated. Think about it. The greatest generation had to beat the Nazis to preserve our way of life. You're only asked to get a shot! So be a patriot, turn off the TV, and go get vaccinated."

(c) 2021 John Nichols writes about politics for The Capitol Times. His book on protests and politics, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street, is published by Nation Books. Follow John Nichols on Twitter @NicholsUprising.

World In Self-Destruct; The Signs Are In Front Of Our Nose
By James Donahue

While watching the nightly news hour on our local television channel this week I was struck by the bombardment of subtle signs that our world has gone daft.

In more than 50 years of observing and writing about world events, this writer cannot recall a time when world-wide weather was striking with such destructive force over so wide an area and with such regularity.

I remember heat waves, when the thermometer topped 100 degrees and things got really uncomfortable for a day or two. It might happen once or twice in a summer and we just spent the day drinking lots of water, swallowing salt tablets, and staying in the shade as much as possible.

I recall one summer when it rained nearly every day. Fields were flooded, the streams were rushing and it was hard for a young boy on summer break to find a lot to do to occupy his time. Those were the days before we had television and computers and we spent our free time working and playing under the sun.

There was what we remember as the Flint Tornado of May 12, 1956. That storm was probably the most frightening weather events of my memory. While we didn't live very close to Flint, the effects of the storm touched our lives. That is because that super tornado not only ripped through the heart of Flint, Michigan, but it marched easterly on almost a straight line toward Lake Huron, coming out a few miles north of Port Huron. It laid trees, houses, barns, cars and utility lines flat. We who lived to the north of the Marysville Detroit Edison power plant were without electricity for about a week.

And there was that terrible winter of 1947 when we had so much snow that the roads in or out of our town were closed by snow drifts that were higher than cars. Schools were closed for over a week. I remember they brought mail in that week on a single-engine aircraft that landed on skis in an open field not far from our home. It was the first time I ever got to see an airplane up close.

Those were the extremes. They happened, but they were rare enough that they became milestones in our lives. They were events that all of us who lived through them could talk about for years afterward.

Now storms and weather events of that magnitude seem to be occurring every week. Super tornadoes are so common we see the results of them on our television screens almost weekly, from Florida north to New York state. Hurricanes and super typhoons are sweeping the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and raising havoc when they come ashore in Asia, Australia and North America. The winter gales, winds, snows and ice storms have been making headlines in both Europe and the United States ever since the strangely warm weather exited the Northern latitudes in early January.

The weather prognosticators have been arguing among themselves over just what is causing this "whacky weather." Some say it is the effect of global warming while others say it is a normal cycle of weather patterns and we should not be alarmed. The latter group is quickly declining in number as the storms intensify and research is supporting the warming Earth theory.

No longer just a theory; the buildup of carbon dioxide from burning carbon fuels and methane from under the melting ice caps and drilling of gas wells, have been shown to be directly linked to our warming planet. But there are still deniers.

The latter group are obviously in denial of the obvious. This writer has lived far longer than they have, and we have never seen a pattern of "whacky weather" like this . . . ever.

Looking beyond the weather news on that nightly television broadcast, we also were struck by the number of advertisements directed at ailments now striking not only senior citizens but the middle-aged as well.

New medical treatments are promoted for treatment of such things as erectile dysfunction, joint pain, sleep disorders, restless leg syndrome, asthma, depression and now the deadly COVID-19 virus. It occurred to me that these are all symptoms of our environment. We are being bombarded by invisible radio, television and microwaves from cell phone communication systems. We live in an overcrowded world of noise and air, ground and water pollution. Everything we eat is filled with chemicals that damage our bodies and our nervous systems. The air we breathe is filled with soot and chemical dust. The water we drink is saturated with the same toxic stuff.

The world has changed radically in the last 50 years. From my years of observation, the changes are not for the better. The doomsday soothsayers make strong points when they predict the end of the world as we know it.

(c) 2021 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles.

A person walks along a section of highway near Mayschoss, Germany, that was damaged from heavy rains and flooding, in mid-July.

It's Not The Heat, It's The Damage
By Bill McKibben

The febrile summer of 2021 hammers home what we know and what we don't about climate change. It can be summed up in two paragraphs, neither of which is comforting.

1. We understand about how much the temperature is going to rise if we keep pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This has been the central scientific preoccupation for more than three decades, translating gigatons of carbon and methane into degrees of warming, and researchers have got it more or less right, from James Hansen's original predictions in the late nineteen-eighties to the secret reports that Exxon scientists provided executives during the same period. The precision of these estimates increases the more we learn; new data this year on the effect of clouds, for instance, make clear that they will do more to warm the earth than to cool it, which was one of the last remaining uncertainties. Simply put, doubling the amount of greenhouse gas from before the Industrial Revolution in the atmosphere would increase the earth's temperature somewhere around three degrees Celsius. That's what we're on track to do right now. It's a scary high number.

2. We understand much less about how much damage those three degrees would do. It's hard to build computer models powerful enough to calculate the rise in temperature, but infinitely harder to predict the resulting havoc, because that's a function of many things that we can't really measure. Some of those things are human-how will we respond as societies to catastrophe? (It's perhaps not a great sign that many Americans worried about climate change are now heading to survivalist school. In the words of one attendee, "Now I feel like, 'Oh, my God, I can set up a mud hut.'"). But many of these unpredictables are physical. Consider the jet stream: it clearly governs much about life in our hemisphere, but until recently few scientists suggested that it could fundamentally shift its behavior. Now the melting of the Arctic has reduced the temperature gradient between the equator and the North Pole, and that reduction, in turn, seems to be making the jet stream sluggish, setting up such events as the devastating European flooding. "We had a low-pressure field over central Europe which did not move, it was persistent and long-lasting," a researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research told the Financial Times. "Normally, our weather patterns moved from west to east," but "this engine"-the temperature gradient-"that we have is weakened."

There are plenty of other systems that we're now starting to really worry about. The marine equivalent, the Gulf Stream, is quite suddenly slowing, probably because freshwater is pouring off the Greenland ice sheet and disrupting the density differences that drive the great ocean currents. We don't know how close we are to poorly understood "tipping points" that could rapidly turn the Amazon from rain forest into savanna. Kelp forests, the "rain forests of the sea" that cover a quarter of the planet's coastline, appear to have shrunk by a third in the past decade. In fact, name a large physical system on the planet, and chances are that it is now in chaotic flux.

The lessons to be drawn from all of this are not novel. One is that we need to slash greenhouse-gas emissions with incredible speed, in order to reduce the total amount of warming, and hence reduce the pushing and shoving on basic physical systems. The other is that we need to prepare ourselves and our civilizations for massive dislocations.

But we really need to make ourselves think about what it means to be flying blind into the future. We focus a lot of attention on how much the temperature will rise, because it's a knowable number; our political, diplomatic, and economic debates are conducted as if it's the essential fact. But the scarier question is what each tenth of a degree will do. We don't know, and we can't really know: these fundamental systems are clearly intertwined, and their breakdowns are likely to cascade.

When a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published their landmark study "The Limits to Growth," in 1972, the eeriest part of their prediction was that societal collapse-set for some time in the next few decades-would come about from the somewhat opaque interactions of the world's systems. That is, the M.I.T. team didn't name a single cause that would inflict fatal damage on the planet-their (necessarily crude, at the time) computer modelling simply showed that, past a certain point, chaos would ensue. Ever since, a few people have tracked their predictions; an analyst at the accounting firm KPMG, working on her own time, published a recent assessment, and it shows that we're tracking some of their predicted scenarios all too closely.

In that kind of world, we should stand on the brakes, and we should make sure that we've got seat belts and airbags working, not to mention an ambulance standing by. We're not an accident waiting to happen-as of now, we're an accident in the process of happening.

(c) 2021 Bill McKibben is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign and a contributing writer to The New Yorker. He writes The Climate Crisis, The New Yorker's newsletter on the environment.

Nuclear plant with solar panels in foreground

Is Smaller Better When It Comes To Nuclear?
By David Suzuki

Nuclear power hasn't been in the news much since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in Japan. Thanks to a push by industry and governments, you might soon hear more about how nuclear reactors are now safer and better.

Specifically, the conversation has shifted to "small modular nuclear reactors" or SMNRs, which generate less than 300 megawatts of electricity, compared to up to 1,600 MWe for large reactors.

Some of the 100 or so designs being considered include integral pressurized water reactors, molten salt reactors, high-temperature gas reactors, liquid metal cooled reactors and solid state or heat pipe reactors. To date, the industry is stuck at the prototype stage for all models and none is truly modular in the sense of being manufactured several at a time - an impediment considering the speed at which global heating is worsening.

The benefits touted by industry have convinced many countries, including Canada, to gamble huge sums on nuclear, despite the poor odds. The Small Modular Reactor Action Plan hypes it as the possible "future of Canada's nuclear industry, with the potential to provide non-emitting energy for a wide range of applications, from grid-scale electricity generation to use in heavy industry and remote communities."

Canada would reap economic benefits from an expanded nuclear industry. We have the largest deposits of high-grade uranium and a long history of nuclear power development and export. But uranium mining creates problems: impacts on Indigenous communities, workers exposed to radiation, radioactive contamination of lakes, habitat destruction and more.

The World Nuclear Association says small reactors' modular construction means they can be built faster and for less money than conventional nuclear, and several modules can be combined to create larger facilities. They're seen as a cleaner replacement for diesel or gas power in remote oil and gas operations and isolated communities.

The association says they're "designed for a high level of passive or inherent safety in the event of malfunction" and that "many are designed to be emplaced below ground level, giving a high resistance to terrorist threats." They can also produce steam for industrial applications and district heating systems, and used to make value-added products such as hydrogen fuel and desalinated drinking water.

But, given the seriousness of the climate emergency and the various options for transforming our energy systems to combat it, is nuclear - regardless of size or shape - the way to go? We must rapidly reduce emissions now, and we have readily available technologies to do so.

New nuclear doesn't make practical or economic sense for now. Building reactors will remain expensive and time-consuming. Studies estimate electricity from small nuclear can cost from four to 10 times that of wind and solar, whose costs continue to drop. SMNRs will require substantial government subsidies.

Even when nuclear has to compete against renewables prepackaged with storage, the latter wins out.

One recent study of 123 countries over 25 years published in Nature Energy found that renewables are much better at reducing greenhouse gas emissions than nuclear - whose benefits in this area are negligible - and that combining nuclear and renewables creates a systemic tension that makes it harder to develop renewables to their potential.

Like all nuclear reactors, SMNRs produce radioactive waste and contribute to increased nuclear weapons proliferation risk - and Canada still has no effective strategy for waste. Nuclear power also requires enormous amounts of water.

Corporate interests often favour large, easily monopolized utilities, arguing that only major fossil fuel, nuclear or hydro power facilities can provide large-scale "baseload" power. But many experts argue the "baseload myth" is baseless - that a flexible system using renewables combined with investments in energy efficiency and a smart grid that helps smooth out demand peaks is far more efficient and cost-effective, especially as energy storage technologies improve.

Even for remote populations, energy systems that empower communities, households, businesses and organizations to generate and store their own energy with solar panels or wind installations and batteries, for example, and technologies like heat-exchange systems for buildings, would be better than nuclear.

Renewables cost less than nuclear, come with fewer health, environmental and weapons-proliferation risks and have been successfully deployed worldwide. Given rapid advances in energy, grid and storage technologies, along with the absolute urgency of the climate crisis, pursuing nuclear at the expense of renewables is costly, dangerous and unnecessary.

(c) 2021 Dr. David Suzuki is a scientist, broadcaster, author, and co-founder of the David Suzuki Foundation.

Don't Get Swept Up In The Infrastructure Romance. Bipartisanship Is Illusory
The Republican Party rarely bargains in good faith. More proof is coming soon, in the form of Chuck Schumer's second, $3.5 trillion bill.
By Charles P. Pierce

The Senate worked all weekend on the famous Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal-a.k.a., the Kyrsten Sinema Protection Act of 2021. It appears that the mills of the clods grinders slowly, but they're still getting there. However, for all the praise the B.I.D. is getting, it seems as though the Republicans are celebrating it as a partisan win. Here's Schumer. From Politico:

"It's been decades since Congress passed such a significant standalone investment and I salute the hard work done here by everybody," Schumer said. "Given how bipartisan the bill is and how much work has already been put in to get the details right, I believe the Senate can quickly process relevant amendments."
And Sinema:
"This very process of finding bipartisan compromise and working together to achieve the objectives that the American people are depending upon us to do is the very heart and very core of why each of us serve in this government," Sinema said. "It is why I ran for office."
This is all very adorable. But then we come to Senator Rob Portman, the lead Republican in the negotiations and someone who never took his eye off the ball.
Portman, meanwhile, declared that "this process of starting from the center out has worked." He reiterated that the bipartisan bill focused on "core infrastructure" and would not raise taxes, meeting the two conditions Republicans set.
The Washington Post also points out that whatever bipartisan deal is hammered out isn't entirely clear of the minefield:
But there nonetheless remains concern in both parties that some of the math is fuzzy, raising the potential that the package still could add to the federal deficit - and bring about significant fighting on the Senate floor.
OK, first of all, absolutely-no-tax-increases-ever is not "the center" by any measure except that of Portman and his party. Second, that business about "core infrastructure" is a shot across the bow regarding the second part of the Biden-Schumer grand design. And the members of the Republican half of this bipartisan triumph are suiting up to become Republicans again when it comes to that.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), another GOP negotiator, addressed that argument Sunday evening, emphasizing that the bipartisan package was a separate effort. "I know members of both parties have mischaracterized our efforts as somehow linked to paving the way to the Democrats' $3.5 trillion wish list," Romney said. "If you don't think our Democrat friends are going to push for that monstrosity with or without this bill then I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. They're going to push for that anyway."
Despite the demonstrable popularity of many of its principle features, the second bill, the one that Schumer says he will seek to pass through reconciliation, is going to be a genuine brawl with a Republican Party that rarely bargains in good faith, and that has been implacably committed to shoving as much of the nation's wealth upwards as possible and doing everything it can to keep it there. The second bill is $3.5 trillion, and it is not bipartisan, and it contains a whole pile of things that the country needs and that Republicans believe it does not. Bipartisanship is illusory. The proof of that is coming down the track.

(c) 2021 Charles P. Pierce has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently 'Idiot America.' He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.

The Quotable Quote-

"We live in the wealthiest nation in the history of the world, but that reality means little because almost all of that wealth is controlled by a tiny handful of individuals. There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of 1 percent owns almost as much as the bottom 90 percent, and when 99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. There is something profoundly wrong when one family owns more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans. This type of immoral, unsustainable economy is not what America is supposed to be about. This has got to change, and together we will change it. The change begins when we say to the billionaire class: "You can't have it all. You can't get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can't continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can't hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs in every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America if you refuse to accept your responsibilities as Americans."
~~~ Bernie Sanders

This is the first time on record that renewables were the second-largest generator of electricity in the U.S.,

For First Time On Record, US Renewables Generated More Electricity Than Either Coal Or Nuclear in 2020
"About half of U.S. clean energy now comes from solar and wind, and the other half from hydroelectric power."
By Juan Cole

The Energy Information Administration, the primary authority in the federal government on energy numbers, concludes that renewables, primarily hydro, wind and solar, rose to become 21% of electricity generation in the U.S. in 2020.

This is the first time on record that renewables were the second-largest generator of electricity in the U.S.

Renewables overall increased 9% between 2019 and 2020. About half of U.S. clean energy now comes from solar and wind, and the other half from hydroelectric power.

Wind generation increased by 14%.

Solar rocketed up even more, with utility-scale solar projects of 1 megawatt or more growing by 26%.

Small-scale solar such as rooftop installations like the one we have increased by 19%.

The Clean Power Association says that America put in 26 gigawatts of renewables electricity plants in 2020 - 80% more than in 2019 - bringing total US renewables capacity to 170 gigawatts.

In the US, some 78% of all new electricity generation was from wind and solar, which are clearly the future of the American grid.

American renewables beat out coal, now only 19%, and nuclear, at 20%. Coal is dirty and expensive, and coal power plants have been replaced in droves by wind farms and by natural gas. It was the largest generator of electricity in the US until 2016, and has gone into a tailspin because renewables and natural gas are much cheaper.


Natural gas, which is only half as carbon intensive as coal, is now the leading generator of electricity in the US, at some 40%.

Coal electricity generation fell 20% from 2019 to 2020.

Between renewables and nuclear, 41% of American electricity generation is now low-carbon or no-carbon.

While the increase clean gigawattage is impressive in American terms, China added 136 gigawatts of new renewables capacity in 2020, dwarfing the U.S. effort. This massive lead that China has in wind and solar translates into advantages in manufacturing, distribution and sales of equipment like solar panels. The U.S., for all that it is finally making some strides, is going way too slow if it wants to be a leader in these industries and if it wants to do its part to keep global heating below an extra 3.6 degrees F.

(c) 2021 Juan R.I. Cole is the founder and chief editor of Informed Comment. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. He has written extensively on modern Islamic movements in Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South Asia and has given numerous media interviews on the war on terrorism and the Iraq War. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years and continues to travel widely there. He speaks Arabic, Farsi and Urdu.

A Trump Bombshell Quietly Dropped Last Week. And It Should Shock Us All
By Robert Reich

We've become so inured to Donald Trump's proto-fascism that we barely blink an eye when we learn that he tried to manipulate the 2020 election. Yet the most recent revelation should frighten every American to their core.

On Friday, the House oversight committee released notes of a 27 December telephone call from Trump to then acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen, in which Trump told Rosen: "Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me and the R congressmen." The notes were taken by Richard Donoghue, Rosen's deputy, who was also on the call.

The release of these notes has barely made a stir. The weekend news was filled with more immediate things - infrastructure! The Delta strain! Inflation! Wildfires! In light of everything else going on, Trump's bizarre efforts in the last weeks of his presidency seem wearily irrelevant. Didn't we already know how desperate he was?

In a word, no. This revelation is hugely important.

Rosen obviously rejected Trump's request. But what if Rosen had obeyed Trump and said to the American public that the election was corrupt - and then "left the rest" to Trump and the Republican congressmen? What would Trump's and the Republicans' next moves have been? And which Republican congressmen were in cahoots with Trump in this attempted coup d'etat?

Make no mistake: this was an attempted coup.

Trump knew it. Just weeks earlier, then attorney general William Barr said the justice department had found no evidence of widespread fraud that could have overturned the results.

And a few days after Trump's call to Rosen - on 2 January - Trump told Brad Raffensperger, Georgia's secretary of state, to "find" votes to change the election outcome. He berated Raffensperger for not doing more to overturn the election.

Emails released last month also show that Trump and his allies in the last weeks of his presidency pressured the justice department to investigate totally unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud - forwarding them conspiracy theories and even a draft legal brief they hoped would be filed with the supreme court.

Some people, especially Republican officeholders, believe we should simply forget these sordid details. We must not.

For the first time in the history of the United States we did not have a peaceful transition of power. For the first time in American history, a president refused - still refuses - to concede, and continues to claim, with no basis in fact, that the election was "stolen" from him. For the first time in history, a president actively plotted a coup.

It would have been bad enough were Trump a mere crackpot acting on his own pathetic stage - a would-be dictator who accidentally became president and then, when he lost re-election, went bonkers - after which he was swept into the dustbin of history.

We might then merely regret this temporary lapse in American presidential history. At best, Trump would be seen as a fool and the whole affair an embarrassment to the country.

But Trump was no accident and he's not in any dustbin. He has turned one of America's two major parties into his own cult. He has cast the major political division in the US as a clash between those who believe him about the 2020 election and those who do not. He has emboldened state Republicans to execute the most brazen attack on voting rights since Jim Crow. Most Republican senators and representatives dare not cross him. Some of his followers continue to threaten violence against the government. By all accounts, he is running for president again in 2024.

Donald Trump's proto-fascism poses the largest internal threat to American democracy since the civil war.

What to do about it? Fight it, and the sooner the better.

This final revelation - Trump's 27 December call to the acting attorney general in which he pleads "Just say the election was corrupt + leave the rest to me" - should trigger section 3 of the 14th amendment, which bars anyone from holding office who "engaged in insurrection" against the US. The current attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland, should issue an advisory opinion clearly stating this. If Trump wants to take it to the supreme court, fine.

(c) 2021 Robert B. Reich has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. His latest book is "Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few." His web site is

Trump supporters climbing the walls of the U.S. Capitol during the January 6, 2021, insurrection.

Unequal Justice: Trump's Legal Woes Are Multiplying

The House of Representatives is likely to amass an unassailable record of the former President's part in inciting the January 6 insurrection, setting the stage for possible prosecution.

By Bill Blum

The legal noose is tightening around Donald Trump's neck. Although we are still far from seeing the former commander-in-chief outfitted in a prison jumpsuit, Trump faces legal jeopardy on a variety of fronts related to his long history of corruption in the private sector and his malfeasance as President. And make no mistake: as Trump runs out of cards to play, the jeopardy becomes less and less of a political game he can spin in his favor. Things are getting serious.

Several recent developments have improved the odds that Trump will be brought to justice.

On July 1, the Trump Organization and its former Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg, were indicted by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. for tax fraud, grand larceny, and conspiracy.

While Trump has not yet been charged individually, the indictment refers to an "unindicted co-conspirator" who allegedly "agreed to and implemented" Weisselberg's tax evasion scheme. Since little happens in Trump's financial empire without his knowledge and consent, the reference points to Trump, who could well be named as a defendant in the near future by way of an amended indictment.

Attorney General Letitia James has joined Vance's criminal probe, fortifying the courtroom firepower arrayed against Trump. In 2019, James opened a separate civil investigation of Trump's business practices that could result in significant fines and the formal dissolution of the Trump Organization.

In addition, Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis has convened two grand juries to investigate Trump for pressuring the Georgia Secretary of State to overturn the results of the 2020 election. In March, Willis reportedly hired attorney John Floyd, a nationally recognized authority on racketeering and conspiracy law, to advise her on the probe.

Even if Trump manages to dodge personal liability in New York and Georgia, he will hardly be in the clear. First and foremost, he will find himself squarely in the crosshairs of the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the United States Capitol. The committee was established to report on the causes and consequences of the insurrection that delayed and nearly prevented Congress from certifying Joe Biden's victory in the Electoral College.

The committee held its first public session on July 27, featuring dramatic testimony from four law enforcement officers (two from the Capitol Police and two from the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department) who defended Congress against the violent mob of MAGA rioters that stormed the Capitol on January 6. Together, they recounted the horror, brutality, and racism of the rampage, laying the blame for the event squarely on Trump and his high-level enablers.

As Capitol Police officer Harry Dunn told the committee: "If a hit man is hired and he kills somebody, the hit man goes to jail. But not only does the hit man go to jail, but the person who hired them does. It was an attack carried out on January 6 and a hit man sent them. I want you to get to the bottom of that."

The select committee is equipped with subpoena power to fulfill Dunn's wishes.

In a July 28 interview with MSNBC's Ari Melber, former Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman said he believes the committee will use that power to subpoena and depose Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Representative Mo Brooks, Republican of Alabama, who revved up the rioters on January 6 in speeches delivered before the assault on the Capitol. The committee, Ackerman said, will piece together a damning "jigsaw puzzle" to explain exactly what occurred on January 6.

"And they don't really have much of a defense here," Ackerman explained. "I think the more [the committee] can dig into the evidence showing that Trump and Rudy Giuliani and Brooks knew these people had come . . . looking for a fight-the more they can show what they were doing [was] inciting this riot. That's not going to fly well with [a] jury [in] the District of Columbia."

According to press reports, the committee is working on its future witness list and preparing to set a new round of hearings. And while it remains to be seen if Trump actually will be summoned, Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, the panel's chairman, has publicly stated the committee won't hesitate to call Trump, or officials from the Trump Administration, or members of Congress, such as Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, and Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, who spoke with Trump on January 6. Thompson has also vowed to go to court to enforce any subpoenas that are issued.

With or without Trump's testimony, the committee is likely to amass an unassailable record of the former President's part in inciting the insurrection, setting the stage for a referral to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution.

In an encouraging sign that the DOJ is taking the investigation seriously, the department issued a set of letters late last month to former Trump Administration officials, informing that it would not invoke the doctrine of executive privilege to shield them from testifying before Congress about the Capitol attack.

In a similar vein, the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel recently published a formal opinion, confirming that the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service

"must furnish" Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee.

Compounding Trump's legal miseries further is the federal civil suit filed by Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, against Trump for inciting the insurrection. Swalwell's complaint, which also names Giuliani and Brooks as defendants, seeks both compensatory and punitive monetary damages, as well as a judicial declaration that the trio violated federal law.

In a court filing last week, the DOJ declined to intervene in the case and take on Brooks's defense, as it would in many lawsuits involving federal employees. In reasoning that also applies to Trump, the department explained that Brooks's involvement in the events leading up to the Capitol attack was beyond the scope and duties of his employment.

The DOJ is also moving forward with the prosecution of more than 500 Capitol rioters, some of whom have come to blame Trump for their conduct.

All of this is very bad news for the former President. The key now is to ramp up the pressure and persevere until Trump and the neo-fascist movement he represents are finally held to account.

(c) 2021 Bill Blum is a Los Angeles lawyer and a former state of California administrative law judge.

The Cartoon Corner-

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Bruce Plante ~~~

To End On A Happy Note-

Have You Seen This-

Parting Shots-

Experts Encourage Americans To Start Thinking About What Form Of Government They'd Like To Try After Democracy Crumbles
By The Onion

WASHINGTON-Urging the nation to get a head start on what they described as an inevitable decision, the Brookings Institute released a statement Tuesday encouraging Americans to start thinking about what form of government they would like to try after democracy crumbles.

"We're urging this country's citizens to really put their heads together on how they'd like the country to be governed after the federal government ultimately implodes and leaves a massive power vacuum," said policymaking expert James Kimberly, explaining to the country's 330 million residents that there were some "really cool" options to consider for the post-democracy America, ranging from a constitutional monarchy to an outright banana republic.

"How about a totalitarian dictatorship? Anarcho-syndicalism? Or, hey, Japan did some cool stuff with a shogun back in the day. Nothing saying we can't have an American shogun. There's also always complete chaos to consider, which would make a lot of sense given where we're heading. All we're saying is that we should get the ball rolling on this, because we don't want to get caught with our pants down whenever Washington D.C. is left a smoldering crater."

At press time, the nation had unanimously decided that after U.S. democracy collapsed, they would pursue sharia law.

(c) 2021 The Onion

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Issues & Alibis Vol 21 # 31 (c) 08/06/2021

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